This hand is risky, it loses to discard, [[Stifle]], and [[Flusterstorm]]. Are you really supposed to give up a turn-one kill though? I don’t think so. Games are not always defined by their opening hands, and we need this game to be if that’s the case. Another action spell could do the job or maybe the opponent kept a second turn [[Marit Lage Token]] hand. It’s certainly not a hand I would feel great about, but sometimes the risk is worth the reward. Do you expect many six-card hands to be better against that trio of disruption? Not many will be, especially on the draw.
Death & Taxes
Hand No. 1: (on the draw)
[[Ponder|]] [[Brainstorm|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]]
The fundamental turn in game one of this matchup is turn two. That is when you can expect cards such as [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]], [[Stoneforge Mystic]], or [[Spirit of the Labyrinth]] to come down. While the opponent can use a [[Wasteland]] on the first turn, for the most part, the game revolves around the second turn. Which brings me back to our seven-card hand, what does this hand do on the second turn against a [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]]? Absolutely nothing. We need to mulligan to something explosive, I would rather mulligan to two while looking for exactly [[Echo of Eons]] and [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] than lose keeping a hand that I know is hopeless. You could argue for [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Ponder]]) and then cast [[Brainstorm]], but is that any better than just using the London Mulligan? I don’t believe so.
An important thing to know about the white hate-bears game is that they do not have free interaction in the first game. This means we can generate a [[Goblin Token]] horde via [[Empty the Warrens]] and take a likely win. That said, it’s not a guarantee due to [[Stoneforge Mystic]] into [[Batterskull]]. If you check out our data page, we have the math that breaks down this classic battle. It’s worth noting that 10 [[Goblin Token]]s can lose to [[Mother of Runes]] or [[Swords to Plowshares]] into [[Stoneforge Mystic]] and [[Batterskull]]. It’s better to accept these improbable losses than attempting to win with [[Echo of Eons]], I’d argue that the [[Empty the Warrens]] like is the mathematically correct choice.
Hand No. 3: (on the draw)
[[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Dark Ritual|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Bloodstained Mire|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Rite of Flame|]]
In the days of the Paris Mulligan, I would’ve kept this hand. By keeping this hand you’re saying, “I am going to accept losing roughly 70-75″ of games” when [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] resolves on the second turn. We’re 35 percent every turn to draw an action spell, but that math includes [[Ponder]] as well as [[Brainstorm]]. What if those cantrips don’t find [[Burning Wish]] or [[Wishclaw Talisman]]? In a matchup that is all about speed, taking the slow and steady nature of drawing an action spell eventually isn’t acceptable. Your best friend in game one is the London Mulligan — yes, I did two scenarios to emphasize this. It’s THAT important.
The fundamental turn is in our favor when on the play due to the ability of casting [[Wishclaw Talisman]] and passing the turn in the face of [[Wasteland]]. We’ll search up the basic [[Swamp]], [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Brainstorm]]), and cast our two mana artifact. It’s natural to want to cast [[Lion’s Eye Diamond]] into [[Echo of Eons]], I get it — I enjoy doing broken things too. It’s not the best play, unfortunately. You’re taking away your ability of being able to cast [[Ad Nauseam]] without [[Echo of Eons]] in your deck on the second turn as long as you draw something that generates a mana that isn’t a land. Even if you don’t, it’s better to cast [[Echo of Eons]] with open mana and an untapped [[Wishclaw Talisman]] to search up a hypothetically lethal [[Tendrils of Agony]]. One of the fine lines of playing The EPIC Storm is knowing when to exercise patience and when to go for it because it’s not getting any better.
A secret-weapon to this matchup is within your sideboard — [[Massacre]]. Fortunately for us, we have the ability to cast it in game one due to the powerful card [[Burning Wish]]. Having lands and [[Burning Wish]] doesn’t mean you’ll win the game, but it does break the results of the agreed upon fundamental turn. That makes [[Burning Wish]] a very valuable card to have in your initial hand, but the rest of the cards will need to do some lifting. For my personal taste, I think just a [[Brainstorm]] and a copy of [[Rite of Flame]] is a little weak, but that’s what we’ve been given which is barely passable.
[[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]]
[[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]] [[Veil of Summer|]]
Hand No. 6: (on the play)
[[Defense Grid|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Rite of Flame|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Chrome Mox|]] [[Badlands|]]
Having an actual game plan is important. While [[Defense Grid]] for [[Mindbreak Trap]] is nice to have, it’s not crucial enough. [[Chain of Vapor]] for [[Deafening Silence]] or [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] is terrific. But what are we doing? How much time is [[Chain of Vapor]] going to buy? The answer is not enough. Hands of all interaction spells are classic trap hands that you should mulligan away.
You can’t be afraid of mulliganing. It goes back to what I said in Hand No. 1, do not keep hands because they exist. How do you beat anything our opponents are trying to do here? The existence of [[Deafening Silence]] and [[Mindbreak Trap]] doesn’t change anything. Stay disciplined.
While opening up the nuts is great, it’s good to take a step back and think about how the opponent is trying to beat you — [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]], [[Deafening Silence]], and [[Mindbreak Trap]]. The only one of these we don’t have covered is [[Mindbreak Trap]]. Is there anything we can do about that, which doesn’t lead to us losing to [[Deafening Silence]]? Perhaps. Sequencing and planning is good to do. I would bottom the [[Polluted Delta]] because I’m not interested in losing any life when my plan is to resolve [[Ad Nauseam]].
[[Swamp]], [[Lotus Petal]], [[Chrome Mox]] (Imprint: [[Rite of Flame]]), and… pass. By passing the turn here, we can beat Mindbreak Trap by casting [[Ad Nauseam]] on our opponents turn. We don’t even need to do it in their upkeep, we can wait to see if they even have [[Deafening Silence]]. If they do, make sure you reveal an answer to [[Ad Nauseam]] before stopping. If they don’t, I’d start to eyeball a plan that gets [[Defense Grid]] into play before casting [[Tendrils of Agony]]. Strategies like these will go a long way in post-board games as one of the best ways of defeating [[Mindbreak Trap]] is to resolve [[Ad Nauseam]], [[Echo of Eons]], or [[Peer into the Abyss]] before it’s active.
Assuming that we make it to our turn without a [[Deafening Silence]], that means our opponent has either [[Mindbreak Trap]] or a hate-bear (likely [[Thalia, Guardian of Thraben]] or [[Ethersworn Canonist]]). Which is more probable? Most lists play 1-2 copies of the blue menace while there are likely 8-10 two-mana disruptive creatures that we care about. Sometimes the best way of beating [[Mindbreak Trap]] is accepting when you can’t afford to beat it anyway.
Hand No. 10: (on the play)
[[Echo of Eons|]] [[Lion’s Eye Diamond|]] [[Burning Wish|]] [[Chain of Vapor|]] [[Abrupt Decay|]] [[Mox Opal|]] [[Wishclaw Talisman|]]
Share your answer in the comments below!
I’ll provide my answer in the next article. For now, make sure to post your thoughts!
Bryant Cook has one Grand Prix Top 8 as well as nine Star City Games Top 8s (two wins). Bryant recently won a Legacy PTQ and a Legacy Challenge in the same weekend with v10.8! You can most likely find him teaching others how to cast Rite of Flame or creating Legacy & Vintage content. Bryant is also a host of The Eternal Glory Podcast, as well as a Web Designer, New York Mets fan, and all-around nerd.
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